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The author says:

TYR is a space fantasy (part one in a series) that follows Kai Brecken. It’s set in an undefined ‘future’ and takes place partly on a planet (Egeria) and partly on a spaceship. The target audience is lovers of sci-fi/fantasy/Vin Diesel. Thank you in advance!



Nathan says:

No glaring problems that I can see.  Let’s go to fine-tuning!

  1. While the star-scape is visible at full size, in the thumbnail it just blends into a gray texture.  I’d suggest adding some extra stars the look like stars even from a thumbnail.
  2. I don’t think your byline needs to be so small.  I also don’t think that a typewriter font is the the right font for this cover.
  3. Back cover: The planet that takes up half the cover really doesn’t need all the focus; it would be better as background. Don’t you have a bio note, or a blurb, or a publisher logo that you could use to fill in that shadow-side?

Other comments?


  1. I agree with all of Nathan’s points. In fact, the star field could be a lot more dramatic since it really isn’t immediately clear that the novel is in fact science fiction (in spite of the use of the Star Trek typeface). has hundreds of high-quality, high-resolution images that are absolutely free to use. Go to the gallery here: It should be easy to find any number that would make a spectacular background for the cover.

  2. To Nathan’s points:

    1) Overall, I think the star field is fine, but Ron brings up a good point: the front cover isn’t very sci-fi looking, except the font. So it’s not doing its job. Maybe make the star field stronger in clarity or brightness and less nebula cloud-like (see Ron’s gallery suggestion). Would shrinking the woman on the cover (say 5-10%) afford more space for some other sci-fi element relevant to the story be ok?

    2) I agree that your byline font has to go.

    3) I agree that the planet can be subsumed to the background in favor of more text and the inevitable white rectangle space for the ISBN # and barcode.

    Am I the only one bothered by the brown lens flare element on the back cover? Normally I’m ok with lens flare, but this one bothers me.

    But overall, a good cover.

  3. Thanks guys. It’s my first cover attempt so the help is most appreciated! I sooo regret not finding this place before publishing but I suppose I make the rules so I can modify!!

    What font do you think would work better for the byline? Aesthetically I couldn’t find anything I particularly liked.

    The Starfield is my own art. I didn’t know about hubble so just created it on my own. The planet too. I’ll go check out hubble!! Could have saved myself tons of work!

    The planet is a large part of the story (location and plotwise) which is why I enlarged it on the back… but also just because I was enamored with my own work. I MADE SPACE. I’ll play with filling the space in other ways and see what works.

    Thanks for the tips!

  4. I went through a period a few years ago of MAKING ALL THE SPACE (isn’t it fun?), so to my eye it was immediately obvious how the starfield and planet had been constructed, which isn’t what you want.

    IMO there isn’t quite enough depth to it: there needs to be more diversity in the sizes of the stars, and more variation in the density of stars. Consider adding one of the hubble images the commenter above linked to as a second layer for your big, fancy stars. For the planet, I would add a displacement map to the texture so that it appears to wrap around the planet, and I would add another layer or two of textures–maybe some cloud cover?

    I think the problem with the byline font is that typerwriter font reads either old-timey or cyberpunk–not far future space opera. Unfortunately I don’t have any suggestions here because I am bad at fonts.

    1. SPACE!!! I’m so excited for this hubble thing. <3 You guys are amazing.

      *cracks knuckles* Back to the polishing board!

  5. Looking at your cover, Bette Midler’s “From A Distance” is playing through my head. You’ve got a good concept, and from a distance, a decent execution. It’s when I start getting closer that I start noticing the flaws.

    1. Yes, your star field looks fake. “Space: the glittery frontier” is not quite what your target audience of space opera readers wants to see. In the thumbnail, the stars look a bit too densely packed, but they do look like stars. The closer I look, though, the less like stars and the more like static they start to look.

    Fortunately, the solution to this problem is simple: you can run a filter or two on the background (increasing the contrast and running a de-noise would probably do it) to make the brighter stars stand out and give the field some apparent depth. Another possibility is that you can simply get a stock image of some stars: so many cosmic photographs and artworks are available online dirt cheap that just buying one (for, say, $1.95) might be a more cost-effective use of your time. Some of the stock images even come with ready-made planets as well!

    2. Yes, you need a bigger byline. The font you used for Children of Oreki looks nice and bold and futuristic. Why not go with that in your byline as well?

    3. Evidently, nobody else here thought to look at your picture at full size, but I did. The poor quality of the cut-and-paste job you did with your protagonist on the front cover doesn’t show in the thumbnail or the mid-sized picture in this post, but at full size the star field shining through her translucent face and the hasty blurring of her edges really leaps right out at me. Your prospective readers might not immediately cry foul if they see your book cover in thumbnail and at medium size on the sales page at Amazon or any other bookseller, but if they get a physical copy or an e-book with this cover at full size or they’re just sharp-eyed enough to notice the star field shimmering through your protagonist at this middling size (as I am), you’re busted.

    I’d say the main mistake you made with cutting and pasting your protagonist is that you’ve zigged everywhere you should have zagged and zagged everywhere you should have zigged. In your editing program, you should have used the lasso (or freehand selection, or whatever its programmers call it) to select only your protagonist’s hair and outer edges (hair being somewhat translucent anyway) to make transparent. Then you should only very sparingly use the smoothing/airbrushing tool after you’ve pasted your protagonist onto the background in order to conceal any jagged edges that your selection’s feathering somehow didn’t smooth out as much as you wanted.

    Miscellaneous details: from close up, your planet and protagonist are pixelated such that I can see they were clearly blown up a bit bigger than they were supposed to be in order to fill the cover; long story short, don’t do that. Yes, your planet is a little too obviously constructed and then pasted in; as mentioned, cheap images of the cosmos sometimes come with their own planets, or you can also buy a cheap Earth-like planet image separately (for, again, about $1.95). The lens flares you might as well leave out altogether: nobody knows why J.J. Abrams thought it necessary to include so many of those in his Star Trek reboot, and even a lot of the Trekkies don’t like them; your lens flares will do no better with your target audience than his did.

    Finally, while I disagree with Mr. Shumate about the planet’s placement on the back cover (it’s fine where it is, though I suspect your publisher will be overlaying it with a bio note or logo and almost certainly a box for the bar code stamp, so plan accordingly for that), the bright blue star shining through your summary on the back is an annoying distraction from the text and reduces its legibility a bit. I therefore recommend moving it somewhere else where there isn’t going to be any text. Bulking up the text’s font to distinguish it better from the background would help too.

    Bottom line: you’ve got a good rough cut here, but now you’ve got a lot of precision work to do. Your cover’s general layout expresses the genre and basic attraction of the book just fine, but now you need to get to the tedious-and-yet-necessary work of clarifying and cleaning up all the little details.

    1. Update: looking up the model for your protagonist on your cover, I can’t help noticing a remarkable resemblance between your front cover, and that of The Torment of Rachel Ames by Jeff Gunhus. While two authors using the same stock image on their covers in different ways (such as the palette swap from green to red you seem to have done here) is not entirely unheard of, or illegal, a small flaw in your image suggests you lifted it directly from his cover. Aside from the potential legal problems you might be facing for that, this is generally a bad idea: you want to get your image directly from the original owner, not another of its users.

      I’d suggest getting another image of a pensive and melancholy woman on a stock image site to represent your protagonist, just to be on the safe side. My searches have turned up this image and this one, to give just two examples. I’m sure you can find a stock image to suit your cover’s needs.

      1. If it’s not illegal to use the same stock image (I am not well versed in this field at ALL) I’ll just keep this one. 🙂 I did, after all, purchase it.

        Thanks for all the excellent tips. I was aware. >< I've never done graphic design so I wasn't sure how to fix those issues and I figured as it looked fine on paperback and the ebook cover didn't get close enough to reveal those issues that it would be fine. "From a distance" was indeed my motto as "I have no idea what I'm doing". LOL.

        I'll definitely need to take more lessons on how to do all this because it's hella fun!


          1. eh no edit comment option… I would not take the advice attached on that page, as everyone uses stock photos. Very rarely do people hire a photgrapher and a studio to take their own professional photos, unless there is a particular reason to. Certain old photos have been pulled to service a lot too, such as the one with the man walking away on a foggy cobbled street that I have seen at least thrice, but could not find now.

  6. There is already a lot of text, and good advice, so I’ll just suggest: why not make the planet bigger, and move it to the right, so the edge shows in the background of the front cover? It would make it more space-y. Even were the starfield more visible, it could still be seen as someone just posing against normal, Earth night sky. The blurb would be on top of the planet – though you will probably need a darker box for it to make it legible.

  7. It’s not lifted. I bought the stock from istock photo. 🙂 I had never seen the other cover before. Thanks for the heads up!

  8. Damn, this is a good cover. RK hit the only real problems.

    The only thing I’d add is that the book title and series title tripped me up. I guess it’s “Children of Dreki: Tyr,” but I keep seeing it as “Children of Dreki Tyr.” Or even “Tyr: Children of Dreki.” (Yes, I shouldn’t see that, but my brain just jumps to seeing the shorter name as the series name.) Easy, aesthetically pleasing solution: Put a horizontal line between the series name and the title.

  9. Perhaps the “doesn’t read sci-fi” issue could be addressed by the relatively simple inclusion of a spaceship in the starfield behind the model’s head? It doesn’t need to display the entire ship–just enough to say “space opera,” and bob’s-yer-uncle.

    There are a bunch of perfectly terrific spaceships on some completely free sites–Pixabay has a few. I can’t recall all the places I’ve seen them, because I have subscriptions/memberships to a bunch of graphic sites. But I’ve definitely seen them, either completely free or uber-cheap. You could even wrap it around the front, spine, and into the back cover. Just a skosh of a spaceship, and pretty much all the genre issues are solved.

    Just an idea.

    1. Personally I don’t think this is a good idea. I think the front reads sci-fi af already, especially if you add a better starfield. And I can’t see anywhere to stick a spaceship that wouldn’t look cluttered and give the image no focal point.

      1. Well, personally, I think that counting on the font alone is a lot of counting on. In this day and age, with ammy cover designers bloody everywhere, they use fonts will-nilly, so you can’t rely on a font necessarily reading “scifi” versus genre x.

        I don’t disagree that it might be a skosh crowded, but putting a small ship in the background, MIGHT work. To me, while the design isn’t bad at all, it doesn’t shout “sci-fi!” to me. That’s my entire comment on this one.

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